Elijah Campbell is enjoying another strong campaign for Everton Under-21s, and after bouncing back from a long-term injury, he believes the best is yet to come.
The young Blues are back in action on Tuesday evening (7pm GMT), when they travel to take on Mansfield Town in the EFL Trophy.
Official Members, Lounge and Season Ticket Members can watch the match live on evertontv.
Still just 19-years-old, Campbell was a regular for the Under-21s last season, making 23 Premier League 2 appearances, while also featuring three times in the EFL Trophy.
Due to an injury suffered in the summer, the centre-back missed his team’s first four encounters of the season, but made his return to the Everton backline for September’s EFL Trophy clash against Doncaster Rovers.
“The season’s been good so far,” said Campbell, speaking to evertonfc.com. “The main objective for me is to get as many games under my belt as I can and to perform to the best of my ability.
“Because I’m now more of a senior player within the Under-21s, it gives me an opportunity to become more of a leader and develop that side of my game as well.
“Two days into pre-season, I snapped the ligament in my ankle. That was really frustrating because I thought I was ready to come back to make an impact on the Senior Team; work my way in and hopefully get a few minutes over pre-season.
“So, that was difficult because I haven’t been injured in a while, but my rehab went well. I did everything I needed to do, but it was a difficult time. Every footballer knows that being injured isn’t ideal, but my ankle feels good now. I feel stronger; I feel fitter.”
Campbell, who joined the Toffees aged 13, has impressed Academy coaches over the years to earn recent regular training sessions with the Everton Senior Team.
For the Manchester-born defender, a lot of his time at the Club has been overseen by his current manager, Everton Under-21s Head Coach Paul Tait.
“Taity is great,” said Campbell. “This is my fourth year working with him. The thing about Taity is that he’s really honest. If there’s something you need to improve on, he’ll tell you, but he’ll tell you in a positive way that helps you to correct it.
“On a matchday, he’s always encouraging. It’s never negative and it’s always positive. It’s about what you can do better rather than: ‘Right, you didn’t do this.’
“Off the pitch, he’s a good guy. I enjoy talking to Taity and getting advice from him. Not just football advice – life advice as well, so I think me and him have a good relationship on and off the pitch.”
Campbell has plenty of ambition, but admits, above all, he is focused on making improvements in each day. He added: “Obviously, you have to set goals and objectives.
“My goal is to be the best footballer I can be. I’d like to be in Everton’s Senior Team and be a consistent key player for Everton, but for now, I take it day by day.”